Graduation Time at Howard Center School Programs


Five Howard Center school programs are planning their end of year celebrations and graduations this spring. SUCCEED, Project SEARCH, Jean Garvin, Fay Honey Knopp and Baird Schools are all planning unique celebrations to thank their students, educators, and families for their commitment to education despite the disruption of in-person learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Project SEARCH is a one-year internship program for young adults with disabilities in their final year of high school. It is focused on students whose goal is competitive employment. The program is a collaboration between community partners including Howard Center, the Vermont Agency of Education, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, South Burlington Schools, and the University of Vermont Medical Center. The program gives young adults with disabilities the opportunity to learn marketable skills in an inclusive work setting. As one student of the program noted “I like the people that I work with and all of my internships at the medical center.”

Project SEARCH will host a completion ceremony for six students on June 9 at 1:00 pm. The event will take place at Frederick Tuttle Middle School under a tent. Speakers at the completion ceremony include Dr. Stephen Leffler, president and chief operating officer at the University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMMC), Mary Broadworth, vice-president of human resources, UVMMC, Selina Hickman, division director, developmental disabilities services, DAIL, and Jen Bergeron, environmental services assistant manager, UVMMC.

Anne Paradiso, director of school programs at Howard Center, says, “The success of Howard Center’s schools this past year is nothing short of remarkable.  Staff and students attended the full year in person, skillfully navigating the COVID-19 safety measures while learning and growing in the adapted environment.  All deserve high praise and sincere gratitude for maneuvering such unchartered territory. Everyone is relieved and excited to move towards a more typical school experience next year.”

After this unprecedented year, the Jean Garvin School in Williston is pleased to be able to hold their end of the year Transition Ceremony in person. Every student will be recognized and can invite two guests to attend the ceremony to be held at the Baird School McClure Gymnasium on June 11.  Jean Garvin School provides a therapeutic, educational program offering unique learning opportunities to inspire personal change and well-being for adolescents, ages 12-18 years, grades 7-12. Students, educators, and families are looking forward to celebrating together after a long year of many changes and adaptations related to COVID-19.

The Baird School will hold an in-person Student Recognition Ceremony in the McClure Gymnasium in Burlington on June 15 for nearly 50 students. With few exceptions, this will be the first time since March 2020 that the entire Baird School student body will be in the same room. The ceremony is always a greatly anticipated event that brings together students, teachers, and families each year. Baird School provides an alternative educational environment for children ages 5-14 and grades K-8.

Fay Honey Knopp, an alternative residential school in Rutland for students in grades 7-12, will be celebrating the graduation of two eighth graders this year, and will also acknowledge each individual student for their academic, social, and emotional growth throughout the year.  They will celebrate with a traditional end-of-year barbeque and hold a pinewood derby race with cars they built as part of their Industrial Arts class. As one ninth grader reflected, “Fay Honey Knopp School has its ups and downs, but I feel like I’ve learned some things since being here…and my IXL scores say I have too!”

SUCCEED is a post-secondary education and independent living program for students with intellectual disabilities or autism.  Students participate in a college experience that prepares them for a future of success. While enrolled in the program, students receive support from SUCCEED staff and feedback from their peers, professors and employers. When students graduate, they have the skills needed to live in their own apartment, develop meaningful friendships, obtain fulfilling employment, and establish community connections. SUCCEED will host a graduation celebration on July 23 at 2:00 pm (location TBD).  This year’s class of five graduates will be honored by program staff and fellow students for all the progress they’ve made throughout this transitional experience.

Congratulations to all students!

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